The bailout may be over, but don’t expect anything to changeFriday 07 February 2014 10.33 By David Murphy
Ordinary Irish people won’t notice the slightest difference between life before and after the bailout.
Banking problems persist, unemployment is still high and the economy is sluggish.
Conditions are improving. But it is far too early to say that Ireland is out of trouble.
I understand that initially the Government planned low key events to mark the end of the bailout.
But ministers were besieged by media requests, particularly from foreign journalists, and clearly decided not to miss the opportunity of positive coverage.
However, the Government needs to be careful not to overplay its hand.
It is very easy for ministers to slip into populist rhetoric about regaining our sovereignty.
While Ireland was in a bailout, Europe changed.
Like other countries, the Irish have signed up to new rules, which means there will be increased surveillance of the public finances by Brussels.
This will happen regardless of the fact the country has had a bailout.
In addition to the new rules there will be post-loan programme monitoring of the public finances too.
Apart from economists from other countries keeping an eye on Ireland’s coffers, our own authorities will have to introduce another tough budget at the end of next year.
And let’s not forget the long-term unemployed, people affected by reduced public services and the thousands struggling with personal debt.
While many economic indicators are turning positive, the bailout exit is a date in the calendar, not a cause for celebration.